The Battle Over Legalized Marijuana Is Done
(h/t: Radley Balko)
How a Dog’s Nose Became a ‘Search Warrant on a Leash’
A 2011 Chicago Tribune analysis of data from suburban police departments found that vehicle searches justified by a dog’s alert failed to turn up drugs or drug paraphernalia 56 percent of the time. In 1979 six police dogs at two public schools in Highland, Indiana, alerted to 50 students, only 17 of whom possessed contraband (marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and cans of beer), meaning the false positive rate was 66 percent. Looking at the performance of an Illinois state police K-9 team during an 11-month period in 2007 and 2008, Huffington Post reporter Radley Balko found that the dog sniffed 252 vehicles and alerted 136 times, but 74 percent of the searches triggered by those alerts did not find measurable amounts of illegal drugs. Similarly, a 2006 study by the New South Wales Ombudsman in Australia, an independent agency analogous to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, looked at more than 10,000 searches of people triggered by dog alerts and discovered that 74 percent of them found no illegal drugs. More-recent data from New South Wales indicate an even higher error rate: 80 percent in 2011. …
What is going on when dogs alert and no drugs are found? Police and prosecutors usually claim these are not really false alarms because the dog must have detected otherwise imperceptible drug traces left on clothing, cars, or personal possessions.…
Russ Jones, who worked as a K-9 officer and narcotics detective in San Jose, California, for 10 years and is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, notes that the drug-residue excuse is a double-edged sword for police, because it undermines the case for using dog alerts to justify searches. “You’re telling me that my car can be searched because the guy who changed the tires at the tire shop smokes marijuana, and his hands tightened up the lug nuts and put the hub cap back on?” Jones says. “Suppose the UPS guy uses amphetamine or cocaine, and he drops off a book that I ordered from Amazon.com. If a dog smells it, that gives you the right to search my home?”
Read the whole thing. The Supreme Court will be ruling on this issue soon.
Are ABC Stores Going to Pot?
They will if one Virginia lawmaker has his way:
The proposal by Democratic Del. David Englin of Alexandria to look at the potential revenue impact of selling marijuana at the more than 330 ABC stores in Virginia joins a growing list of recommendations across the country to reform laws regarding the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. …
“There are respectable members of society out there, secretly smoking marijuana on the side, and the money that they use to buy that is going to criminals,” said Englin, who said he has not smoked and does not use marijuana. “Seems to me that it’d be a better idea to take that money that’s already being spent and use it to benefit the commonwealth.”
Under the resolution, eight members of the General Assembly would be selected to head a study on the feasibility and practicality of legalizing the use and sale of marijuana under certain conditions, and regulating that sale through the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Findings would be due by the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
(Orthogonally related: Legalize hemp!)
Update: Headline of the Day! —
(From the Staunton News Leader)